Hey, we all LOVE the Arduino, and for my projects I make extra sure that I used the Arduino platform, so that everyone in the artist and hacker community could springboard off it for their own projects, and so that I can springboard off them. Its so universal and easy to learn!   But,  there are a few things THEY don't want you to know about the Arduino:

Starting with the SHOCKING REVELATION THAT....

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Step 1: For a microcontroller, the Arduino is NOT CHEAP!

Picture of For a microcontroller, the Arduino is NOT CHEAP!

1. the Arduino is NOT a cheap microcontroller!

When Arduino-lovers like me say "Wow, the Arduino is such a cheap microcontroller!" this is not strictly true -- it is very cheap for what it is, but type "microcontroller" into Mouser's search box and you will find microcontrollers that cost 30 cents, not 30 dollars.

thats because....

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Step 2: The Arduino is NOT a microcontroller!

Picture of The Arduino is NOT a microcontroller!

2. The Arduino is NOT a microcontroller!

Of course, the Arduino is not a microcontroller, but rather a development environment for microcontrollers -- including a programmer board, a software program for the computer, and a programming language, in addition to the microcontroller chip itself.  A programming/debugging solution the Arduino is extremely easy and friendly to use, and the level of support you get with it is well worth the money. But really, the term "microcontroller" refers specifically to the ATMEGA chip that is on the Arduino debug board.  All the other stuff on the board (the fancy power supply, the LEDs, the reset button, the programming circuitry, the USB-to-Serial converter) is totally optional.

Could that possibly mean that....

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Matjo4 months ago

What is the cheapest option for arduino + wifi? I want to add arduino devices to my cloud. :)

Timv1 Matjo16 days ago

The cheapest wifi I have found is the ESP8266:

You probably don't want to go with wifi, its way expensive. I'd suggest getting an ethernet module, they go for $3 on eBay. Since the IC is so cheap, you could just grab a few transmitters and have them interface with the cloud through the one. It's what I plan on doing :)


or if you want a lot of devices connected, just get one Ethernet module and (then the hard part) write your own spi communication procedure and have all the decives comunicate with the one connected the the Ethernet for relay onto the cloud. Kinda your own mini cloud

SamuelA31 month ago


oh my gosh thank you for the pin conversions! Throw one of these on a breadboard, ftdi it, lil bit of fiddling and its an arduino! thanks for figuring this out, £45 per project i wanted to leave implemented was getting really restictive

Hello Everyone, I live in Brazil and where I live is very dangerous ... I mean people steal you everytime is like Gran theft Auto sooo I want to make a Cheap gps tracker for me and my fellows, I can use this $3 arduino and put a gps to work in this ?
do anybody have a link from a cheap gps too and a tutorial about how to make it?

Ive seaching during a long time for a project to make
.. Very Thanks and Help me please!

(removed by author or community request)

Parceiro, compra no Banggood (aqui)

Aqui tu consegue comprar um monte de coisa, baratinho.. ^^ Comprei quase tudo que tenho de eletrônica aqui... =) Dá uma olhada no meu instructable (aqui). Foi tudo feito com coisa do Banggood....

Fica com Deus! ;D

I know this is from ages ago but check this out: If you have a simcom module and a UNO you're most of the way there. Then pick up a cheap GPS serial receiver for a few $. Just remove/leave out the RFID stuff and have a simple switch or something.

Yeah! but you also need a GSM shield for communication. Check this out:

Hello the shield is so expensive im trying to find a way to make one less expensive

the shield is 160 reais = $ USD 70 and a car tracker in the web shop u can find for is 100 reais = 50 $ USD

ive found this guy who make mini shield so im trying to figure a way to make one with the function of the SIM900 GSM/GPRS Shield Module
I also found this 16.20€ gsm/gprs & gps shield

but still expensive cuz libras are more valuable than dolar one libra costs 3,70 reais

* 80 $USD = 160 reais

Raphango1 month ago

You're so right man... u.u,

Everyone should know it. +D

Thanks for sharing!

LcysL3 months ago

You can find cheaply here:

Or at least for reasonable price. It's a Romanian site, but they might send in other countries as well. The cheapest orders have to be around 7 $ US

zootalaws5 months ago

While your $3 really cheap arduino was a great idea when you wrote it, I now buy Arduino Pro Mini's, headerless (but with included headers if I want to use them), for US$2.

So that's a complete Arduino, with LEDs, voltage regulators, etc. for just $2.

For another buck I can buy a USB-equipped Nano v.3.0.

lnich13 zootalaws5 months ago

Whoa man, send me a link?

zootalaws lnich135 months ago
lnich13 zootalaws5 months ago

Thanks for that :)

zootalaws lnich135 months ago

No worries. There are a bunch of sellers selling the same boards.

Personally, now I buy "Baite" boards - they seem pretty good - well made, reliable, etc. They are about a buck more than the ones I sent the link.

Baite is the manufacturer, they also sell on Aliexpress. I have bought their boards cheaper from other sellers, but the guy at Baite will discount if you buy a few. He was the one I paid $2 from.

lnich13 zootalaws5 months ago

So the quality is good? (for a cheap clone)- and they come with the bootloader installed i assume? and maybe the usual fuse to avoid damage to host computer? :)

Thanks for the help, ill definitely pick up a uno first; but i would much prefer something i can just leave in my projects :)

zootalaws lnich135 months ago

Good quality board, bootloader installed and dunno about the fuse... cant see anything on the schematic.

Not that technical, sorry.

What you are most likely doing when you throw the lilypad loader in is simply setting the fuse bits so that it will run off the internal clock.
Add an external crystal, and a couple capacitors for good measure, and you can take the ATmega328P off the Arduino and make a circuit just like yours, and it'll work - AT TWICE THE SPEED that yours does. If you set the fuse bits so that it uses the internal 8MHz clock, even with the Arduino bootloader, your circuit would work. It's about the clock, not the bootloader. If you want to make it much more friendly, add an ICSP header, and a header strip for the pins so you can still prototype, and then you have something really useful. If you have made a project on the Arduino you really like, use your circuit with a 16 MHz crystal across the XTAL pins, with a 22pF cap from each pin to ground, and you can take the chip off the Arduino board to make your project have it's own dedicated processor without taking up your expensive Arduino board.
Here's a couple boards I made - one with an Arduino, and one with an ATmega32A

Would you mind making an instructable on making one of these boards, please?

If you're asking "Where does the power go" - well, you can power it from your programmer which plugs into the 10 pin header, or you can just hook power into pins 2 (+Vcc) and any of 3, 4, 6, 8, or 10 (GND) of the ICSP header. If you are wondering about the 2 capacitors on the mini-duino, they are on the bottom. I developed these for my first prototype of the LED cube. Since ALL the drivers and transistors etc. were all on my prototype controller board, I made these so that I wouldn't be limited by only 1 kind of microcontroller. I eventually then made a single controller that allowed either of these chips on the same board. I kept these controller boards for prototyping though, and they work great! They are also great for pre-programming chips for people or fixing the fuse bits.

If you're now wondering what the heck the LED cube is, you can see it in action here.

chaporey8 months ago

can any one help me out! i have the Arduino Duemilaove with 328p microcontroler. i want to make a really cheep solution i want to run two servos in sweep with just the microcontroller. and can seem to figure it out can someone give me some suggestions?

so this is the ''clone'' of the arduino duemlianove with the same features?????

BGreenHVAC10 months ago
Thanks, this is what I am looking for.
Personally I find it much easier to just make a chip w/ a 16MHz clock and be able to put any old boot-loader on it. I like using optiboot, a sketch that allows you to use your arduino (I use an uno) to bootload a chip. Then you can just stick that chip in the arduino to program.

The cost isn't that much greater:
ATMEGA328P $2.24 
Crystal 16MHz: $0.46 
(2 )Ceramic Disc Capacitors 22pF: $0.22
Optiloader: free sketch
Total: $2.92 for a 16MHz microprocessor running standard arduino bootloaders. Can be bootloaded and programmed w/ a $30 UNO.

Now I just want to find a cheap battery solution. I wish they sold 5V a dime a dozen like AA. If anyone knows of anything let me know. I'd prefer to just have to hook it up w/o any other wiring.
Would three 1.5V batteries for a total of 4.5 do the trick?

use a portable cellphone charger. the ones with usb ports on them. they work great and the 1.5 v batteries might not work well, some of these chips are pretty specific. i wouldn't risk the damage (regardless of how cheap). you can use 6V or 9V if you buy a 5v regulator (just as cheap as other stuff).

Scratch that, 8 cent capacitors
za_tbr11 months ago
I cant seem to burn a bootloader onto the atmega168U-20PU
I seem to not have the correct boards.txt that support the version of the 168P-20PU
or is there a other reason for returning a wrong Device signature ? ( Using Leonardo as ISP )
fault description

avrdude: Device signature = 0x1e940b
avrdude: Expected signature for ATMEGA168 is 1E 94 06
dog digger3 years ago
Chip where I live cost $24!!!!!
Try you can find 5 chips for about $12
JesusGeek1 year ago
If you buy from Tayda Electronics, you can only spend about 5 bucks to make a fully functional Arduino!
"This is not a big deal unless your application needs very accurate timing or needs to perform tasks very quickly -- in which case you can add a crystal oscillator and two capacitors to make it run at the proper 16MHz speed."

In regards of this quote from the tutorial, can the ATmega chip be clocked by a faster crystal, say, 40MHz, or is 16MHz the limit? Thanks!
My dad told me that overclocking can mean overheating. So you can, but you'll need the proper cooling.
Also, the limit is actually 20MHz for Mega168 and Mega328. (Arduino boards that take a microcontroller with the Mega8 footprint run at 16MHz because that is the limit on Mega8.)
Ghyorn2 years ago
1 atmega8-16pu = 1$
It's the same thing than an arduino but it only has 8kB of flash, bust trust me, it's enought for most of you projects. I have a bunch of them and put them everywhere.
misellers3 years ago
OR you could use Picaxe chips which start at £2 $3-$4 and all the work is done for you. Picaxe were even selling of their 28X2 module for £6ish.
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